The latest attempt to shift New Hampshire away from daylight-savings switcheroos by putting us permanently on the Atlantic Standard Time (as long as Maine and Massachusetts do it first) is still alive: The House of Representatives has passed HB85 and it’s in committee in the Senate.
This has been a frequent effort in recent years – here’s a 2019 story about efforts then, which died in the state Senate. No matter what happens with the bill I’m sure the time switch will never actually happen, because we won’t do it unless Boston does and Boston won’t do it unless New York does and New York has no interest in the change. But it’s still a fun topic to discuss.
I recently reread “Seize the Daylight” by David Prerau. It’s a history of daylight savings time, which has been contentious since it was invented in the late 19th century. The debate was largely a rural-vs-urban one back then: Farmers hated it, city-goers liked it.
In 1920 Massachusetts became the first state to adopts DST after the 1919 repeal of a national version which had been adopted by the US and many other countries during World War I to save energy. The Boston & Maine Railroad loved the move because it coordinated Boston with New York – railroads basically invented time zones in order to make scheduling easier – but New Hampshire wasn’t happy: The book quotes a story in what was then Manchester Union that said we resented “forcing this obnoxious law upon the people of New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.”
New Hampshire refused to adopt DST but, the book says, “both Nashua and Manchester officially kept standard time to avoid a $500 state fine, but many businesses advanced work time one hour to keep in step with Boston.” This keeping-two-times move was common around the country by businesses that had customers or suppliers in both DST and non-DST regions. Very confusing.
When I lived in South Central Alaska, we had 6 or more time zones in the state. You had to be very cognizant of the time when you called anyone in the capital city, located in Southeast Alaska; as Juneau was two time zones away from the bulk of the time zone in South Central, where the bulk of the state’s population lived. Every few years, there’s be an effort by politicians and business leaders in Anchorage to move the state capital from Juneau to Anchorage. After I’d moved to Southeast Alaska, that issue was taken off the table when legislation passed to make the whole state, except for a few islands in the Western Aleutians, all one time zone.
However, if you think daylight savings time creates havoc, try making a state that stretches across 6 time zones fit into 1 or 2! It really was disruptive, with parents angry about their kids coming home from school in the dark in communities where that hadn’t been the norm. During the year of the change, Daylight Savings Time just made everyone madder. One feisty community, Metlakatla, the only Native community that didn’t join the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in the 1970s, choosing instead to be Alaska’s only reservation, decided that they wanted no part of Daylight Savings Time. So, while just 16 miles from the regional hub community of Ketchikan, for half the year, Metlakatla and Ketchikan shared the same time of day, and for the other half of the year, they were an hour apart.
Could be worse – we could live in China, which is one enormous time zone.